There are a few chosen moments in a person’s life that are pivotal and life-changing. I have been fortunate to have one of those moments in my life and I think that it has shaped my personality and character today. As I look back to that experience, I am amused by the fact that it took me some years to realize how influential my high school biology teacher was in shaping my values towards education, hard work, and responsibility. I was only a teenager when I met her and naturally, I did not care the least about how she was teaching us or what impact she was making on our volatile and malleable minds.But years after I left high school and have now encountered various situations that challenged my character and personality, I see how her methods of teaching equipped me to face these situations. When she was teaching us high school biology during the second year of high school, she already had two children. It was not surprising that I and my peers always felt that she treated us very motherly, concerned not only with our academic performance but also with our character formation.
She taught us beyond the classroom and was always accessible even outside the school premises. She was very interactive and made sure that we have healthy communication. Once, I and a few my classmates were having difficulty with a laboratory experimentation which she made us do. Without hesitation, she invited us over her house and helped us accomplish the experiment by guiding us through the instructions. She was accommodating and open to questions and even complaints.
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There was a healthy exchange in our communication and during that year with her, I experienced how guidance could aid student in charting their progress. Because of the nature of her class, she was able to instill to us the value of cooperation and interaction within the group. She maximized our laboratory sessions to instruct us how a team functions. The class was not her monopoly. She delegated as much responsibility to us and put confidence in our skills and capacity to work together. Our laboratory sessions became more than tedious, repetitive and routine class requirements.
Aside from including bits of fun in it, she also made sure that we work effectively in groups. She constantly monitored how we go through experiments, roaming around the laboratory and observing one group after another. She insisted on involving every member of the group and I remember that she specifically designed her experiments to ensure that everybody in the group participates. Nobody was left behind in her class. It is very important that a class progress as whole and not only individuals or certain groups within the class.
The sign of an effective teacher is that he or she sufficiently meets the needs of every student in the class. I realize now how huge her responsibilities were trying to assess how each of her students learn and teach in a way that enables her to match these various learning styles. It was during the second year of my high school when I learned to depend on my skills. This was primarily made possible by my biology teacher who always encouraged us to learn actively, using our own strengths and capabilities.
She rarely monopolized the class by spoon feeding information to us. Instead, she allowed us to discover the answers for ourselves. During our class discussion on taxonomy, she had each of us report on the basic classification of animal and plant kingdom giving us only the bare details. She suggested a few places where we can gather information, but she did not assign a book or a particular material. She said that we can stretch our creativity in our reports as long we educate the class on our assigned topic.
As her way of guiding us through the task, she opened her office for consultation. I realized that she was adapting methods used in college by allowing us to be independent students. Through her efforts of making our learning active, I learned to form study habits on my own and depend on my own skills and capabilities in accomplishing goals. In terms of reaching goals, my biology teacher also influenced my sense of time. When working on certain tasks inside the class, she reminded us that we were bound by time and cannot afford to lax or procrastinate.
She was strict on deadlines and imposed sanctions on those who disregard the schedule she set. Time management is a crucial part of effective education and she made sure that we internalize that importance during that year. It was just recently that I encountered Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in which he gives certain guidelines on effective time management. As I look back, I realize that my high school teacher was already teaching us some of the basic principles which Covey outlines in his book.
One important information which my teacher imparted on us was prioritization which Covey emphasizes in the section ‘Put First Things First’ (1989). My biology teacher taught us to make important, but not ‘urgent’ [in Covey’s words], matters a top priority in our lives. By this, she meant that we should be balanced individuals devoting our time not only to her subject but also to our families and friends. It was important for her that we balance our activities because she told us that education was not merely based on the book.
Education goes beyond the confines of the class and the textbook. Information is useless if it does not fit appropriately in an individual’s life. Thus, she taught us not only to value time but also to assess how our high school education figures in the rest of our life plans. By showing me and my classmates an overview of life, not only in the literal sense knowing that she taught biology, I was able to endure the tedious parts of high school and utilize my learning to be a more effective student in my succeeding education.
I only spent a year with my biology teacher and most of informational things she taught us regarding the science of life I have already forgotten. But, she remains to be of central significance in my life education because what she imparted to me were skills essential not only to pass an examination but to survive life in general. Her methods and her nurturing character helped me discover my own strength, the value of cooperation and the high regard for the limits of time.
Covey, S. (1989). The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. UK: Simon and Schuster.
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